Chapter 3 The Rise of a National

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					            Chapter 3
The Rise of a National Literature

    From An Outline of American
     Literature by Peter B. High
The Rise of A National Literature
  Disagreement about how American literature
   should grow: (p.27)
1.American Literature still lacked national feeling;
   needed books which expressed special character of
   the nation
2. too young to develop declare its independence
   from the British literary tradition, still a branch of
   English culture
3. The call for a national literature was a mistake;
   good literature should be universal
       The Rise of A National Literature

Novel – the first popular literature of the newly
 independent United States
    1. has been considered a dangerous form of
       literature by the American Puritans who thought
       novels put immortal ideas into the head of young
    2. spoke directly to ordinary Americans
    3. helped Americans see themselves as a single
     The Rise of Novel

1.   suppressed as morally dangerous
2.   later novelists filled their novels
     with moralistic advice and
     religious sentiments to make
     them acceptable (p.28)
3.   The first American Novel –
     William Hill Brown‟s Power of
     Sympathy (1789)
4.   Susanna Rowson‟s Charlotte
     Temple (1791)
   Hugh Henry Brackenridge

1. Modern Chivalry (1792-1815) – a series of
   adventures in which the author makes fun of
   America‟s “backwoods” culture and customs
   (slavery and sword fights), religious and
   national groups (the Quakers, the Irish, the
   Indians). The weaknesses of American
   democracy are also described.
2. Like Susanna Rowson, he wanted to achieve a
   reform in morals and manners of the people.
     Gilbert Imlay (1754-1828)
Emigrants (1793)
1. English families who moved to America
   to live in a frontier settlement found
   happiness in contrast to those who held
   the false old values of English society
   were ruined
2. showed American culture to be more
   natural and simple than the old culture
   of Europe
    Charles Brockden Brown
1. interested in the psychology of
    horror and the complicated
    minds (p.29)
2. influenced writers as Hawthorne
    and Poe
3. Wieland (1798), Ormond (1799),
    Arthur Mervyn (1799), Edgar
    Humtly (1799)
                  Royall Tyler
Algerine Captive (1797)
1. the protagonist is made a slave
    by pirates after his ship that
    carries black slaves sinks.
2. an attack on the American
    government for its support of
    slavery (p.30)
       The Period of
            “Knickerbockers” (1810-1840)
    the name “Knickerbockers” (p.30-31)
    comes from Washington Irving‟s A History of New York by
     Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809) -- a local history of New York

By the early 1800s -- two hundred years after Henry Hudson
  arrived -- most New Yorkers knew little about their city's
  history. Few even knew that Manhattan was once New

“Diedrich" means "father" in Dutch, and the last name, according
  to the author's note, meant "to nod or doze over books”
The Period of
     “Knickerbockers” (1810-1840)
   Took interest in the local history of New
   Invented many events and legends
   Gave New York City a special local color
   Laughed at the Puritans and early Dutch
Knickerbocker's New Amsterdam
     Washington Irving (1783-1859)
   The Sketch Book (1819) contains 32 stories two best
    stories: “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy
    Hollow” (p.31-32)
   Plots are based on old German folk tales
   Few of the stories are really original; his writing materials
    come from nations of Europe
   the first Ameriacn to earn his living through literature
   considered feeling and language as more important
    elements in his art than story or character
   regarded the story simply “as a frame on which I sketch
    my materials”
Rip Van Winkle
James Fenimore Cooper

      wanted to speak for all America (since Neither Irving
       nor othe Knickerbockers really tried to speak for the
       whole country. Their whole world tended to stop at
       the borders of New York State.) – p.33
      his books contain much thoughtful criticism of
       American society
      In Europe, Cooper was known as “the American
       Walter Scott” (who wrote adventure stories filled with
       historical details)
      considered his works to be completely original
      their characters are “American,” the pioneer, the
       Indian and the Yankee sailor
      The Spy (1821), his first successful novel
              “Leatherstocking” Series
   The Pioneers (1823) – p.34-35
        set in America‟s movement westward
        the main character Natty Bumppo, a typical
         American pioneer figure, a master of all the skills
         needed to live in the forest, deep love for nature,
         sympathy for all people, including Indians
        race conflict between white and Indians
        Uncas and Chingachgook are Natty‟s best Indians
         friends – noble savages
        the Indians, dying race, were sacrificed to the
         advance of white culture
             “Leatherstocking” Series
   The Last of the Monicans (1826)
   The Pathfinder (1840)
   The Deerslayer (1841)
   Sea Stories

   civilization over the wilderness
   most successful descriptions are
    on violent action, night-time
    terror and mystery
   women characters are weak
                    THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS

   The Last of the Mohicans is the 1826 sequel to the now less-famous
    The Pioneers (1823) and the prequel to The Prairie (1827). It is set at
    the time of the war between France and England in North America and,
    as the novel begins, we are already three years into the conflict. At
    Fort Edward, General Webb receives news of a French attack under
    Montcalm is coming to Fort William Henry which is only guarded by
    the small force of the Scotsman Monro. Captain Duncan Heyward is
    dispatched to take Munro‟s daughters to that Fort along with the
    renegade Native American runner Magua, known as Le Renard Subtil
    (The Cunning Fox). The magnificent Chingachgook whose son is the last
    of the Mohican tribe, and find that Magua is actually preventing their
    progress and is allied to the French. Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo, the
    central character in these „Leatherstocking Tales‟) and follow him and
    his Indian companions as they become involved in the bloody
    war. Hawkeye is seemingly the last decent white man as he respects the
    Indians‟ customs in this exciting adventure story full of battles, captures
    and rescues .
               The Last of the Monicans


               Hawkeye (Nathaniel Bumppo)
    William Cullen Bryant
    disliked the old neoclassical style (p.37-38)
       new poetry should not simply copy the forms and ideas
        of the ancient classics
       should break away the old patterns
       understand the world through his emotions
       its aim is to find a new higher kind of knowledge
       nature poetry, paved the way for the Transcendentalists
        (who believes that man can find truth through his own
       a poet with a deep social conscience, fought hard for the
        rights of the laborer and of blacks, “The Indian Girl‟s
        Lament” and “The African Chief”
    Writers in the South
   John Pendleton Kennedy (1795-1870) wrote
    Swallow Barn (1832)
   William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870)
     The Yemassee (1835), his best work

     interested in Indian society as a whole, their

      customs and psychology are studied in
     a work of literature and history

     believed that “it is the artist only who is the

      true historian”

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